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Lannan returns to form in Class AA outing

John Lannan's first start since Monday's demotion to Class AA Harrisburg went as well as the organization could have hoped, with Lannan allowing one run and three hits through seven innings of Friday's 5-2 win over Reading. He struck out five and walked one. Most important to the Nationals, he left the game with improved mechanics and an infusion of confidence.

"Overall, location," Lannan said about the major difference between Friday's outing and his struggles with the Nationals. "I've been able to locate my fastballs better than I have in awhile. My off-speed curveball and slider, I actually felt confident in those pitches. And I think that stems from not trying to do too much with it."

Lannan said his problems were mechanical, with minor alterations in his arm angle causing him to show his pitches earlier. When he overcompensated as a result of injury, he lost the sink on his fastball and tried to do too much with his pitches. A return to the minor leagues for the first time since 2007 and working with Senators pitching coach Randy Tomlin helped Lannan begin to return to the form that earned the top spot in the Nationals' rotation.

Lannan's first inning was especially strong, but he said he returned to some of his problem areas in the middle innings. Lannan was able to make adjustments and return to his normal delivery, Tomlin said, and finished the game as strong as he appeared in the first inning.

He threw 90 pitches and 57 strikes, and wanted to enter the game for the eighth inning. Manager Randy Knorr did not want to send Lannan out for just a few more pitches, and removed him from the game with a strong outing intact.

"It was a point of emphasis to be confident with his stuff, be confident in himself and then start to feel confident in the way he throws the ball," Tomlin said. "Mainly, keep it simple. It's not overemphasize a lot of things, but emphasize the fundamentals. When we were together earlier, that's something he did really good."

Lannan admitted he was "upset" when he learned of the demotion, but said it was the "best thing" for him to do. He said the Nationals have always given him opportunities, and he viewed the demotion as an opportunity to come and work with Tomlin and make it right.

"I think this is good working with Randy," Lannan said. "I could have figured it out up there, but I didn't. I was hurting the team. The team up there is really, really good, and I think we have a shot of doing good things. It's still early, and I think it was best for me for me to come down here and work with Randy. I think I could have figured it out, but it would have been selfish of me to keep on trying and do that when the team is battling in the NL East."

As well as he pitched on Friday, Lannan did not face a major league lineup. In fact, the Phillies' top prospect, Domonic Brown, was promoted from Reading to Lehigh Valley earlier in the day. But if Lannan was sent down to rediscover why he was called up in 2007 -- and has been mostly effective since then, the Nationals' brass saw that on Friday.

"I'd like to get up as soon as possible," Lannan said. "Whatever they decide, they decide. But I think I have a good base."

By Zach Berman  |  June 25, 2010; 10:48 PM ET
Categories:  John Lannan  | Tags: John Lannan, Randy Knorr, Randy Tomlin  
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I presume John threw 57 strikes in 90 pitches.

If he went 90 innings tonight, maybe he is the guy we need to go long into our ballgames in DC after all.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 26, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Attaboy, Johnny!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 26, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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